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Phelps on ESPN's College Gameday broadcast.
|Title||Head coach (retired)|
July 4, 1941 |
Beacon, New York
|Coaching career (HC unless noted)|
|Head coaching record|
Richard F. "Digger" Phelps (born July 4, 1941) is an American former college basketball coach, most notably of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish men's basketball team from 1971 to 1991. For 20 years, from 1993 to 2014, he served as an analyst on ESPN. He got the nickname "Digger" from his father, who was a mortician in Beacon, New York.
Phelps began his coaching career in 1963 as a graduate assistant at Rider College (now Rider University), where he had played basketball. After a move to St. Gabriel's High School in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, he obtained his first full assistant job in 1966 at the University of Pennsylvania.
His first head coaching job came in the 1970–1971 season at Fordham University, where he coached Charlie Yelverton and P.J. Carlisimo. After leading the Rams to a 26-3 record, a Number 9 national ranking and an at large bid to the NCAA tournament, he was named head coach at the University of Notre Dame.
During his 20 seasons at Notre Dame (1971–91), his teams went 393–197, with 14 seasons of 20 wins or more. In 1978, Notre Dame made its only Final Four to date. His most-remembered game was on January 19, 1974, when the Fighting Irish scored the last 12 points of the game to defeat top-ranked UCLA, 71–70, ending the Bruins' record 88-game winning streak. He shares the NCAA record for most upsets over a #1 team at seven (Gary Williams also has 7).
|January 19, 1974||UCLA||71–70|
|March 5, 1977||San Francisco||93–82|
|February 26, 1978||Marquette||65–59|
|February 27, 1980||DePaul||76–74 (2ot)|
|December 27, 1980||Kentucky||67–61|
|February 22, 1981||Virginia (UVA)||57–56|
|February 1, 1987||North Carolina (UNC)||60–58|
In 1992, he began his broadcasting career as he announced color commentary for that year's NCAA tournament for CBS. He joined ESPN the next season and worked for them until 2014 as a college basketball studio and game analyst.
Phelps announced during the 4/7/14 broadcast of "College GameDay" that he is leaving ESPN.
"I spent 20 years at Notre Dame as a coach and now 20 years here at ESPN doing a great job with all you people. And now it's time for me to move forward, and this will be my last time on TV," Phelps said.
Phelps added: "It's been a great run. Twenty years is always my target for everything, and it's time to move forward."
Off the court
After retiring from Notre Dame, he briefly worked for the Office of National Drug Control Policy in the administration of George H.W. Bush and also served as an observer in the 1993 elections in Cambodia.
Phelps is a great fan of opera. The well-rounded former coach made a cameo appearance in the Notre Dame student opera performance of Offenbach's "Orpheus in the Underworld". Phelps played the part of Bacchus, the God of Wine, in two performances in April 2006.
Phelps released his memoirs in 2007, titled "Undertaker's Son: Life Lessons from a Coach." Phelps co-wrote the book with Jack Colwell, and the book details Phelps' upbringing, professional success, life principles and even lists his "Top 20" songs of all-time.
Phelps was instrumental in the restoration of various programs at John McDonogh High School in New Orleans post-Hurricane Katrina. His gifts helped to restore the sports program and helped to launch a four-year Culinary Academy in partnership with the Louisiana Restaurant Association Education Foundation and the Recovery School District on December 15, 2010.
Head coaching record
|Fordham Rams (Independent) (1970–1971)|
|1970–71||Fordham||26–3||NCAA Sweet 16/NCAA East 3rd Place|
|Notre Dame Fighting Irish (Independent) (1971–1991)|
|1972–73||Notre Dame||18–12||NIT Runner Up|
|1973–74||Notre Dame||26–3||NCAA Sweet 16/NCAA Midwest 3rd Place|
|1974–75||Notre Dame||19–10||NCAA Sweet 16|
|1975–76||Notre Dame||23–6||NCAA Sweet 16|
|1976–77||Notre Dame||22–7||NCAA 1st Round|
|1977–78||Notre Dame||23–8||NCAA Final Four|
|1978–79||Notre Dame||24–6||NCAA Elite 8|
|1979–80||Notre Dame||22–6||NCAA 2nd Round|
|1980–81||Notre Dame||23–6||NCAA Sweet 16|
|1982–83||Notre Dame||19–10||NIT 1st Round|
|1983–84||Notre Dame||21–12||NIT Runner Up|
|1984–85||Notre Dame||21–9||NCAA 2nd Round|
|1985–86||Notre Dame||23–6||NCAA 1st Round|
|1986–87||Notre Dame||24–8||NCAA Sweet 16|
|1987–88||Notre Dame||20–9||NCAA 1st Round|
|1988–89||Notre Dame||21–7||NCAA 2nd Round|
|1989–90||Notre Dame||16–13||NCAA 1st Round|
National champion Postseason invitational champion
- "Digger Phelps". ESPN MediaZone. Archived from the original on 2014-04-03.
- Bingham, Jacqueline W. "Alumni Association to honor Karen and Jamie Moyer". Notre Dame. Retrieved July 19, 2013.
- Frater Appointed to President's Council on Physical Fitness, tke.org; accessed January 1, 2015.
- Profile, nola.com; accessed January 1, 2015.
- "ESPN". ESPN.com.
- Daley, Kaitee. "Digger Phelps' biggest victory". ESPN.com. Retrieved July 19, 2013.
- "Digger Phelps declared cancer free". ESPN.com. Retrieved July 19, 2013.